Toughie 3035 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3035

Toughie No 3035 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Twmbarlwm

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****  –  Enjoyment ****

Good afternoon. I’m in Gazza’s Thursday chair for one week only, and what a superb puzzle this was for my first Toughie blog: beautifully composed with a wide variety of devices and deceptions, and some clever thematic clues relating to the opening solution. The difficulty rating might be a little lower for anyone who got the gateway solution quicker than I did!
Our setter also had to deal with the extra e_____t (sorry!) of skill needed to clue the thematic solutions (nouns) in ways that matched 1a (adjective).
Many thanks to Firefly.

In the following hints, definitions are underlined, indicators are mostly in parentheses, and answers are revealed by clicking where shown as usual.
Please leave a comment below on how you got on with the puzzle, which aspects you liked, and any of my explanations that might have missed something.

1a, 24a & 23d Dick’s familiar words sadly name every last dreamy town, very neglected (10,2,4,6)
ELEMENTARY MY DEAR WATSON: An anagram (sadly) of NAME EVERY LAST DREAMY TOWN, minus V (‘very’ neglected). My first thought for ‘Dick’ was Whittington, followed by Cheney. Way off!

9a 1 describes this knee joint regularly (4)
NEON: Alternate letters (regularly) in two consecutive words

10a Delusive pianist beginning to compose promising notes (10)
FALLACIOUS: The surname of a Spanish pianist and composer [eg the ballet ‘The Three-Cornered Hat’ – see youtube for a tremendous version of it at Proms 2013], plus a first letter as indicated, and finally the plural initialism of a note acknowledging money owed

11a Dash to drop son in right place for dance (6)
HUSTLE: A synonym of dash, or barrel along, has the letter for ‘right’ replaced by the one for son.

12a 2 claiming Intellectual Property Rights? Watch my mouth! (3-4)
LIP-READ: The solution to 2d containing (claiming) a three-letter initialism for the clue’s capitalised phrase

15a Grave robber finally snapped by friend — carousing, without giving a damn about it (7)
PARLOUS: A last letter (finally) is inserted into (snapped by) a synonym of friend, and that’s followed by a word in the clue reduced to three letters by having another word for ‘giving a damn’ removed from its outside (without … about it)

16a Problem with current King? He required so many twists and turns before succeeding! (5)
RUBIK: A term for problem (eg in Hamlet’s soliloquy), the abbreviation in physics for current, and the letter for King in card games. ‘He’ in the definition refers to Ernö _____

17a Golf, perhaps, with a hole in 1? Yes, it is! (4)
GOLD: A letter represented by a Nato/phonetic alphabet term in the clue, plus a cryptic way of indicating O (a hole), leading to a word that O commonly denotes in cryptic crosswords
EDIT: Firefly himself has cleared up the actual parsing of this @ Comment No 8 below: G + ‘old’ as something that perhaps has a hole in it through constant wear

18a 1 entity that’s smooth (4)
IRON: Double definition, one thematic and one a verb

19a Rip current at last switched in river (5)
TRENT: Swapping places in the order of the clue (switched), a word for rip, and a final letter as indicated

21a Section of large farm placed in trustee’s hands (7)
TRANCHE: A word for a large farm, more commonly used in America, is inserted into (placed in) the outer letters (hands) of trustee

22a Apply lotion liberally? It’s boring (3,4)
OIL WELL: A verb and an adverb lead to a playful definition of something that drills

24a See 1 Across

27a Post held inside newspaper cunningly, to hide rips (10)
EDITORSHIP: An anagram (cunningly) of TO HIDE RIPS

28a 1 substance has variable factor incorporated (4)
ZINC: One of the three variable/unknown letters in mathematics etc, plus an abbreviation of a word in the clue

29a One self-employed totter in France floundering (10)
FREELANCER: A synonym of totter as a verb ‘in’ an anagram (floundering) of FRANCE


2d Shot material: “Take 1″, it may be labelled (4)
LEAD: A triple definition, one of which is a verb synonym of guide or escort

3d Is his work against the grain? (6)
MILLER: A cryptic definition of one manufacturing flour

4d Raise flag to idol? Not quite there! (2,5)
NO CIGAR: A reversal (raise) of synonyms for flag and idol (linked by ‘to’); the solution is the second part of a phrase that means ‘Good guess, but wrong’

5d Component of several items here, oddly shown in art forms (4)
ATOM: A reference to the thematic solutions revealed by alternate letters in two consecutive words (oddly shown)

6d Cover holidaymakers arranged when leaving Rio, led astray (7)
YASHMAK: An anagram (arranged) of HOLIDAYMAKERS minus (leaving) an anagram (astray) of RIO LED

7d Entree given the setter to Ascot? (4,6)
MEAT COURSE: A personal pronoun for the setter, a two-letter synonym of to, plus a word for what Ascot is an example of

8d Large waves in mid-June touching fringes of Argyll; that’s not normal (10)
UNSEASONAL: A four-letter word for what can loosely be described as large waves goes ‘in’ the middle letter of June, a word for touching (or ‘on the subject of’) and the outside letters (fringes) of Argyll

12d Hurry! The setter’s attending court once Wally’s gone, getting sanction (10)
LEGITIMIZE: A colloquial term for hurry, or run away, and a two-letter contraction of ‘the setter’s’ going next to (attending) an outdated (once) seven-letter word for court from which an alternative term for wally’s, or fool’s, has been removed

13d Half the force embellishing removal of elder’s crown? (10)
POLLARDING: Half of the term for the boys and girls in blue precedes a synonym of embellishing (or adding strips of bacon or fat), leading to a definition-by-example

14d She bowed beautifully and stood up reasonably content (2,3)
DU PRÉ: The solution is hidden in the clue ([its] content)

15d Possibly G, F, or just P? (5)
PIANO: The definition is specific in musical notation, with wordplay examples (possibly) converted to letters: Grand ____ or ____forte

19d From that disturbed forefather, far away (7)
THEREOF: An anagram (disturbed) of FOREFATHER with FAR deleted (away)

20d Information’s included in application. That’s a wrap! (7)
TINFOIL: A diminutive of information goes inside (included in) a moisturising application, an oil derived from sesame seeds said to be good for the skin

23d See 1 Across

25d “Such refreshment is 1 in church.” Sounds like a complaint! (4)
WINE: A homophone (sounds like) of complaint, and a reference to one of the two eucharistic components that are known as e______s

26d It’s 1 of four intrinsic “roots” Empedocles initially provided (4)
FIRE: Empedocles came up with the notion of the four e______s (he called them “roots”), of which this is one, classically

My particular favourites were 11a, 17a, 2d, 6d, 14d, 15d and 26d. What were yours?

25 comments on “Toughie 3035

  1. Firefly’s being a bit tougher than he usually is and he’s given us a well-integrated and enjoyable theme – many thanks to him and to Twmbarlwm for the blog.
    I had to verify that the required word in 4d can mean a flag – apparently it is Navy slang.
    I took the last 3 letters of the 17a answer to be a homophone (perhaps?) of ‘oled (with a hole) but I think that Twmbarlwm’s parsing is better.
    Lots to like – I’ve ticked 16a, 13d, 14d and 15d.

    1. Great crossword, but for the pianist. It’s not as if the setter had painted himself into a corner and couldn’t find a less esoteric construction, which sometimes seems to be the case when obscure general knowledge sends the solver shamefacedly into the arms of Mr Google.

    2. Richard Sharpe: “Do you really think men will fight and die for a rag on a pole?” Major Hogan : “You do, Richard, you do.” (Sharpe’s Rifles).

  2. This would not have been out of place on a Friday in terms of difficulty. I agree that once 1a was solved the rest became more apparent but this was still a worthy challenge. Picking favourites is tough but I will go for 16a and 14d.

    Thanks very much to Firefly and Mr T.

    1. Agree with YS above Took some time to get into and needed the big answer at halfway to help me complete Good fun Thanks to both

  3. Just right for a Thursday Toughie – I too thought of Whittington until I realised what was going on in 1/24/23

    Many thanks to Firefly. I liked the way we had to work to get some of the themed solutions. Thanks also to Twm

  4. Several steps up in difficulty from the first couple of Toughies this week, and at first I had nothing more than a couple of possible letters and answers, however as checking letters for the 1a combo appeared the anagram soon fell and with it confirmation I had been on the right lines for those themed clues. In the end the grid was complete in surprisingly reasonable time for a proper Thursday Toughie, and very satisfying it was, too. Took a long time to get Dr Dre out of my mind at 14d …

    I prefer (and shared) Gazza’s parsing for 17a – “perhaps with a hole in 1?” to be a homophone of ‘oled. Sorry Twm., but I can’t see where the direction is to use hole for o for old, if indeed that’s what you’re getting at.

    So many excellent clues – where to start? 10a, 15a (my LOI), 4d, 12d – but to be honest could put almost all of them on the podium.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Twmbarlwm – congratulations on such a polished first Toughie Review.

  5. Such a great crossword that I think we might let the setter off the hook on a couple of dodgy parsings . Just so much more enjoyable than today’s Backpager – am I the only person who doesn’t get on with the esteemed Ray T ? Many thanks to Firefly and Twmblarwm.

  6. Gazza @1 and Mustafa G @4, you could well be right with 17a – I did wonder at the time if I was seeing one cryptic device too many.
    My reasoning was that the letter ‘o’ is sometimes clued in wordplay as a hole (or ball, or egg etc), so G + O could cryptically be G + OLD.
    My objection to ‘oled was there was no indication to drop the aitch or homophone indicator. I suppose if you said a hard G and holed together, the ‘h’ would be silent, but still…

    Firefly sometimes drops in to the comments, so I’m preparing my sword to fall on now!

    1. I’m with you, Twmbarlwm. I wasn’t particularly happy using ‘perhaps’ as a homophone indicator. I think if Firefly had wanted to indicate ‘oled for ‘with a hole’ he would have used something like ‘in the East End’ instead of ‘perhaps’.

      1. I went down the ‘vehicle’ route so my Golf with a hole in it was a Polo – seemed quite logical at the time!

  7. I had Fortepiano rather than Pianoforte but it got me to the same place. I did scratch my head on 17a but only got as far as concluding that with a hole in might equated to old (like my socks). Thanks to Firefly and Twnbarlwm.

  8. Got really stuck in the SW and had to come for help with 13d, 17a and 28a having written 12d with an S.
    14d brought back memories of pilgrimages to Golden Greens cemetery.
    Thanks to firefly and to Twmbarlwn for the review.

  9. Re 17a… I did think of ‘OLED, but, as Twmbarlwm says, this would have required an extra complication. After a pleasant exchange with our Toughie editor, Michael, he suggested the final version, where “with a hole in?” simply indicates the word OLD. (The question mark was necessary, I think.) I’m grateful to him, and to you all for your kind comments; I don’t often score four stars!

    1. Firefly, thank you for the explanation of 17a. Jonners @6 was correct! I’ve amended the blog.
      Thanks for the super puzzle.

  10. I wasn’t happy with spelling of 12d and like Jean-Luc I spelt it with an ‘S’ but couldn’t parse it, I couldn’t parse it with a ‘Z’ either and anyway it was an unindicated americanism so I needed the hint to to ‘correct’ that and solve 28a which I still don’t understand. I don’t understand the reference to 1a in 25d down either. Obviously I hadn’t heard of the obscure Spanish pianist. All this took some of the gloss of this for me. Favourite was 4d when the penny dropped. Thanks to Firefly and T.

    1. 12d: the z-spelling is the first one in Chambers, and doesn’t seem to be flagged as US. It’s a tricky one, because some z-spellings of other words do seem to be more US than British, so there are inconsistencies.
      28a is Z as one of the variables x, y and z in equations, say, plus inc. for incorporated. The solution could be described as a 1a substance.
      25d: bread and wine are known in the church as ‘elements’, so wine could be described as the solution at 1a.

      1. It’s the second one in my 1990 edition albeit not flagged as American but I’ve always taken it as such and would never spell it with a ‘Z’. My rule of thumb is if it’s obvious it’s a ‘Z’ then it’s a ‘Z’ as in amaze, if you’re not sure then it’s almost certainly an ‘S’. Thank you for enlightening me on the religious context. The only time I ever go into churches are for funerals, which are coming round far too frequently these days, so my grasp on this sort of stuff is limited to say the least. I’ve lived in my current village for 17 years and never been in the church I have, however, been in the pub loads of times. 😁

  11. Seems like we were not alone in struggling with 17a.
    Quite a challenge but huge fun with some great penny-drop moments.
    Thanks Firefly and Twmbarlwm.

  12. I found that extremely difficult (late hour & tired eyes no help) & certainly not an unaided completion having hit the check function a couple of times & made 2 corrections en route plus a letter reveal for the 3d/10a checker. Add me those who thought Whittington initially & like TG had never heard of the pianist & would never spell 12d with a Z. I’ve also never heard of 7d termed as an entree. Never really on wavelength but pleased to grind out a finish & twig the subtractive anagrams a bit quicker than usual. 4,8&13d my top 3.
    Thanks to Firefly for a stern & enjoyable test & T for an excellent review

      1. When commenting previously you have used your full name, either one will work in future

  13. Wouldn’t have got started without the blog Sherlock pictures. Wouldn’t have finished without electronic help. Still pretty pleased I did it, though.
    Could 16a be a Rubik Cube?

  14. Many thanks for your wonderful review, which I needed to resolve a last few, and thank you setter as always.

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